"The Eastern world, it is explodin'
Violence flarin', bullets loadin'
You're old enough to kill, but not for votin'
You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'?
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin'
But you tell me over and over and over again, my friend
You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction"
— Barry McGuire, "Eve of Destruction"
An obligatory trope for any depiction of The End of the World as We Know It
or other potential disasters is some crazy-looking hobo
(usually holding a sign
) or street preacher (usually brandishing a bible) declaring that we should all repent because the world is coming to an end. Ha! As if that will ever happen!
See also The Cassandra
and Harbinger of Impending Doom
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- Tintin ("The Shooting Star"). The mad ex-astronomer Philippulus goes around in white robes, banging a gong and generally making a nuisance of himself.
- Watchmen: A hobo is seen several times carrying a sign with this trope's exact title printed on it. He is revealed to be Rorschach. It also lampshades the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over everyone (not to mention future events in the comic).
- A guy like this is featured in one of the early issues of Buffy Season Eight.
- Sight gag in an Italian comic book. Two men, holding signs that claim "The world will end tomorrow" and "The world will end the day after tomorrow" respectively, are beating each other in the background. In the foreground, a third man is reading a newspaper article titled "Is the world ending today?"
- In one Batman storyline, the antihero Anarky distributes money to a wide variety of anti-establishment groups and individuals, one of whom is a doomsday prophet who uses part of the money to pay homeless people to walk around Gotham wearing sandwich-board signs proclaiming his message. (Unfortunately, he uses the rest of the money to finance his plan to blow up most of downtown Gotham, which he believes will kick-start the apocalypse.)
Films — Animated
- In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, as the food storm rages all over the world, two guys wearing sandwichboards are standing on a street corner in NYC. The first guy's board says "The end of the world is today!" and the other's says "The end is tomorrow!" The second guy is crushed by a hot dog, and the first guy gloats, "I was right!"
- One of these appears in Hercules ranting on the streets of Thebes.
- In Flushed Away, a rat wearing a sandwich board made out of two slices of bread can actually be seen warning all the other rats about the floodgates.
Films — Live-Action
- Played for black comedy in the opening titles of Zombieland, where a man with a sign saying THE END IS NEAR is being chased by zombies.
- Don't forget that guy in Bruce Almighty who turns out to be God all along.
- There is a random guy like this in 2012, seen on a street corner during the earthquake that eats California.
- A Generic Graffiti version in 28 Days Later. The main character Jim stumbles into a church that has "THE END IS EXTREMELY FUCKING NIGH" written on one of its walls. Of course, the church is full of zombies...
- There's a drunk guy in the diner in The Birds who claims that the apocalypse is coming.
- In Independence Day, there is a preacher in the ruins of Los Angeles who is like this. Justified in that the end already came.
- Sherlock Holmes. Crowds of of these are seen being broken up by mounted police outside the Houses of Parliament, indicating the "Panic, sheer bloody panic!" inspired by the villainous Lord Blackwood's return from the dead. One man really goes to town describing the terrible events to come.
"The end is nigh! Blackwood's come back from Hell, and laid a curse upon this land! He walks in every shadow, and every puff of smoke. Behold, he cometh with clouds, and everyone shall see him!"
- In The Seventh Seal, a radical flagelante comes before a crowd to tell them their all doomed, and says it several times in succession. Lots of people actually pay attention to him, though, because they're all afraid of The Black Death.
- Twelve Monkeys has one who stops his ranting to address the main character whilst in '96. It's implied that many doomsayers are actually time travelers scattered throughout history who have gone insane.
- In The Stormlight Archive, we have poor Tanelat. His job as the last Herald of the Almighty was to show up, inform humanity that the Desolation was at hand, and provide leadership and scientific knowledge to help them survive it. Unfortunately, as a result of getting stuck in Hell for several times as long as he was supposed to, he is nearly catatonic and can do little more than babble.
- A Song of Ice and Fire. Tyrion Lannister comes across a Begging Brother preaching about the red comet as a Portent of Doom and decrying the corruption of the current regime. Westeros is already in the midst of a Civil War so none of this is news, but it serves a foreshadowing for the later increase in religious fundamentalism.
Live Action TV
- Doctor Who ("The Shakespeare Code"). The doomsayer is quite delighted that the end of the world is happening, crying: "I told ye so! I told ye so!"
- Seen in the miniseries of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, before the Earth is destroyed. When he realizes the end actually IS nigh, he abandons his sign.
- The mini series version of Stephen King's The Stand featured one of these, played by Kareem Abdul Jabbar of all people. He goes all around New York City screaming "Bring out your dead" in a reference to the Black Plague, even before people start dying en masse from a disease with a 99% fatality rate. He actually survives the plague, and continues his doomcrying until Randall Flagg kills him personally.
- The character was present in the book too, although in an even smaller role than he had in the mini series. Like in the series, he does the "Bring out your dead" shouting, but IIRC is a short, overweight white guy who runs away from Larry when Larry tries to approach him.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Towards the end of Season 7 as the population of Sunnydale pack up and flee, a crazy homeless guy is hauled into the police station shouting the Arc Words "From beneath you, it devours."
- Parodied in Sliders. The fifth season opener has the group land on a world performing experiments with dimensional travel, causing severe and dangerous weather phenomena. One guy on the streets is reading off apocalyptic Bible verses right until the end, where the experiments are shut off and everything returns to normal. He quickly says, "Or not."
- Supernatural. In an effort to avert the Apocalypse, Dean decides to surrender to the Archangel Michael. Knowing that the angels have recruited fundamentalist Christian groups to find him, he approaches a street preacher who is saying that angels have been telling him about the impending end of the world and tells him to contact the man upstairs. Dean is embarrassed when the preacher drops to his knees and starts praying loudly, only for Castiel to teleport in, knock out the preacher and beat the crap out of Dean.
- Parodied (Inverted maybe) in the pilot for Super Force. While Zach is walking around, looking at the future world, we see a street preacher holding a sign reading "Repent! The world will never end!"
- Pretty much the whole point of Jethro Tull's album Stormwatch.
- Warhammer features Flagellants, mobs of unhinged religious fanatics who are convinced that the latest Chaos invasion, Orc Waaagh!, Dark Elf raid, Skaven uprising, Undead attack, civil war... anyway, they're convinced that it's the End Times and want to take part in the final battle. Since their fervor makes them fearless and they like to bludgeon enemies to death with two-handed flails, Empire generals tolerate their presence, even if army morale tends to suffer slightly.
- Empire Earth's units change appearances as you progress through time, the final prophet unit is a homeless-looking guy wearing only a sandwich board with "The End Is Near" written on it. In all eras, the prophet unit will also vocalize that the end is coming and other apocalyptic phrases.
- Neverwinter Nights has a few of these, with them thinking that the Wailing Death plague is a sign of the end.
- In Infinite Space, Adis people do this near the end of the game. Of course, by the time they do this, the universe destruction has already started to happen.
- In Dragon Age: Origins:
- The player can encounter a seemingly insane Chasind barbarian ranting about the Blight in the front courtyard of the Lothering Chantry. Several civilians are trying to silence him, as his shouting is starting to unsettle people. The Warden can choose to ignore him, intimidate him or even shame him into leaving, or try to calm him down with diplomacy. (A sufficiently persuasive Warden can discover the reason for his madness: the darkspawn slaughtered his entire clan, and he was forced to watch as they dragged off his wife.)
- Another doomsayer can appear in Redcliffe, albeit briefly. He warns that the attack on the village by a horde of walking corpses is a sign of the end of the world and that everyone should repent their sins. Like Lothering, the Warden can ignore or drive off the doomsayer, or they can just kill him. He shouts that he welcomes death as you attack him.
- In the Mass Effect series:
- Mass Effect 2 has a "Mad Prophet" who uses the trope name: "Repent! The end is nigh!" (Presumably, he doesn't know about the Reapers who are planning to destroy all civilization; he blames humans as a "blight" - "You, sir, are a blight! And you! And you!")
- The Mad Prophet returns for a brief cameo in the Mass Effect 3 DLC campaign "Omega", blaming humans for the occupation of Omega (which is factually correct, by the way) and the ongoing Reaper invasion.
- A homeless guy in Santa Monica does this in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. Someone familiar with the game's plot and the Old World of Darkness Metaplot will find grains of truth in most of what he says.
- In the "Enter the Metro" trailer for Metro Last Light, a scraggly homeless man is standing in the middle of a street in Moscow preaching about the end of the world - then he laughs as the air raid alarms sound and ICBMs launch in the background.
- X-Men: Evolution (in the episode that introduces Angel) features a doomsayer like this, bearing a sign with "Angels are among us!"
- Powerpuff Girls - a guy is holding a sign like this early in the episode. When we get to the Monster of the Week part it reads "Told You So".
- Parodied in this 2009 New Yorker magazine cover.
- Harold Camping's Judgement Day Prediction.
- The 2012 phenomenon.
- Going by Wikipedia, Christians have been predicting the Apocalypse literally since the beginning (despite the fact that Jesus was very emphatic about how even he himself doesn't know when the world will end).
- The Seventh Day Adventist Church is built on this. In fact, they were originally formed from the remains of the Millerite movement, a group led by William Miller, who predicted the second coming of Christ in the year 1843.